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In Colorado, Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

April 27, 2021

The person who files for divorce first in Colorado won’t automatically have different rights or a stronger divorce case. The courts will give equal consideration to the claims made by petitioners, those who are first to file, and the respondents, their spouses. Still, there can be some advantages to filing for divorce first, depending on your situation.

3 Potential Benefits to Filing for Divorce First

When you’re ready to end your marriage, being the first to file for divorce may give you a leg up in these ways.

1. You May Get to Choose the Jurisdiction.

You may have a choice of where to file for divorce if:

  • You and your spouse live in different counties or states.
  • You have established residency in two (or more) states.

When there is a choice in the jurisdiction, different divorce laws may apply to your case, depending on where you file. In these cases, being the first to file lets you pick the jurisdiction with the rules that have the biggest potential to be most advantageous to you and your case. This type of upfront strategizing in a divorce can go a long way towards protecting your interests while positioning your case for a better outcome.

2. You Are First to State Your Claims in the Case.

When you initiate a divorce filing, you get the first chance to state the separation date, explain the issues, and detail what you want from the dissolution. This can put your ex in a defensive position, leaving them with the task of explaining what they believe to be wrong and, then, proving why. Refuting some claims, especially more serious ones like child neglect or hiding marital property, can be an uphill battle once they’ve been established as an issue in a divorce petition.

3. You Get to Put the Case Deadlines into Action.

Once you file your divorce petition in Colorado, you will get a Case Management Order (CMO), detailing the dates in your case, and you will have to serve your ex with a copy of the petition. After that, your ex will have 21 or 35 days to respond to the divorce papers (21 days if they are in Colorado; 35 days if they are outside of Colorado).

Even if your ex knows you’re going to file, this gives him or her a limited amount of time to craft a detailed response to your filing. While that may increase the chances that an ex will make a mistake, it also limits the time they have to try to compromise or subvert your case. 

Are There Disadvantages to Being the First to File for Divorce in Colorado?

Those who file for divorce first may have to pay more fees to initiate the case. They also have to list out all of the issues in the case, which means they have to cover every detail—from how to divide the marital property to alimony, child custody, and child support. Trying to do this alone can put a petitioner at a disadvantage if they make a mistake or if they don’t have the help of an experienced attorney.

In fact, if the initial divorce filing has incorrect information or leaves out critical issues or explanations, petitioners may compromise their credibility and/or their standing in the case. It can be challenging to come back from these disadvantaged positions without the representation of a savvy divorce attorney.

Should I File for Divorce First?

Find out from an experienced divorce lawyer at The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC. There may be distinct advantages to filing first or waiting to respond, and we can explain what your best options are after hearing more about your situation, needs, and goals.

Given how critical the initial filing can be to setting the tone of a divorce case—and to influencing its outcome—it’s essential you get trusted advice ASAP.  The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC offers confidential consultations, and we are ready to help you now.

Call (970) 488-1887 or email our firm for a 100% confidential consultation. Phone and Skype consultations are available!

The more you know about what to expect in Colorado divorce, the more power you will have to make better decisions at every step going forward. Our Colorado divorce attorneys can explain everything you need to know, help you get your case started, and help you navigate the path towards an optimal resolution.

With our experienced counsel, 5-star service, and strategic representation, you can be confident that your rights and interests are protected—and that you have the guidance and advocacy you need to set your case up for the best outcome possible.

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